Chicago’s financial tech association FinTEx is launching a new organization dedicated to attracting and connecting women working in the niche industry, and the initiative will be led by some of the city’s major female tech leaders.
Branded “FTW: FinTech Women,” the group aims to “create awareness, connections and opportunities, and amplify the success of women who are making an impact in [financial tech].”
Its executive advisory council will include Rumi Morales, a veteran financial technology investor and the former head of CME Ventures; Kristi Ross, co-CEO and president at tastytrade; Collen Sullivan, a managing member at Sullivan Wolf Kailus LLC; and Heather La Freniere, the director of corporate finance at Silicon Valley Bank.
“Chicago was in a relatively unique position, in terms of the visibility and reach that we had of women in fin-tech and financial services in general,” said Lisa Curran, co-founder of FinTEx. “We decided to leverage that to create an organization that’s looking to not just be another group of women in the industry, but really looking to drive gender equality and use this as a platform for promoting the very talented women that we have.”
The tech industry as a whole is dominated by men, but Curran said the financial niche of it is especially one-sided.
“It’s hard for [women] to get a good mentor, and it’s particularly challenging in tech and financial services because there aren’t as many senior, female role models as we would like there to be,” she said.
Council members were chosen based on the prominent roles they hold at financial institutions in Chicago, and together they will provide guidance to volunteers who will contribute podcasts, blog posts and events.
There will also be a member advocacy committee that will consist of 12-15 women considered rising stars within Chicago fin-tech.
Morales, one of the council members, said it was important to her to be part of FTW because there is a growing community of women working in fin-tech and she wants to support them.
And the group isn’t closed off to men. In fact, Morales said she hopes men become active in the group and help foster a more inclusive and equal fin-tech community.
“This is not just for women,” Morales said. “We definitely welcome men, too—those who want to provide public commitment to promoting gender equality within fin-tech companies.”